Dear Fellow Parishioners,
We have now entered into the season of Autumn, from the Latin word, “autumnus,” but whose deeper roots are obscure – possibly Etruscan. While in the U.S. we tend to use “Autumn” and “Fall” interchangeably, the name “Fall” is generally not used outside of North America.
Depending on geography and culture, real-life Autumn does not have a universal start and end date. In the US, it is the time between the Autumnal Equinox (September 21st) and the Winter Solstice (December 21st). In northern countries and climes, it’s earlier. In Ireland, based on Gaelic traditions, Autumn lasts through the months of August, September and October. No matter the culture, Autumn is associated not only with harvest and thanksgiving to God, but also with sharpening weather and dazzling fall colors, which in New England and elsewhere are reported as part of the evening’s TV weather, with colored maps outlining the southward progress of “peak color.” Even in Petaluma, there are parks and streets that reflect a great deal of that beauty. It would be a shame to miss them.
One does not need to be a “tree-hugger” or “leaf peeper” to intuit the presence of God even in the changing of the seasons. The best argument for the existence of God may not be a theological one, but our experience of the harmony and beauty of His creation independent of human frailty. As we pray in the 5th Eucharistic Preface:
All things are of Your making,
all times and seasons obey Your laws,
but You chose to create us in Your own image,
setting us over the whole world in all its wonder.
You made us the stewards of creation,
to praise You day by day for the marvels of Your wisdom and power,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thanksgiving and Advent are roughly two months away. I mentioned that at Masses last weekend not as a threat, but as a reminder that God also created time and is Lord over it in our present, which is His eternal Now. (Time may be God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once for us.) Or, to state it perhaps more negatively, Satan is king and huckster of the narrow present. If we allow ourselves to be isolated and enslaved within the artificial prison of the present, and allow our heads and hearts to seize up, we will not be living out of the freedom and grace that only His sons and daughters enjoy.
Wishing you a grace-filled Autumn,
Fr. Bill Donahue